In recent years I have noticed a concentrated effort by government, locals and foreigners alike to position, Zihuatanejo as “the” place to be.
It seems that nearly every month there is something going on, such as gastronomical events (like the tiritas festival and clandestine dinners), craft beer tastings and world-class week-long extravaganzas like Sailfest and the International Guitarfest. It is hard to find a month where an important festival is not taking place.
Enter another event, Expo Vino, now in its third year, conceived by local businessman and sommelier Miguel Quiroz Arroyo. Born and raised in Zihuatanejo, he started the festival with the idea of featuring the portfolio of wines his wholesale company carried for many years.
I caught up with Quiroz prior to the festival at his wine shop, Rivello Bar & Wine on Nicolas Bravo in the heart of downtown Zihuatanejo, which had opened a few months before. Coupled with the success of his Wine Expo, Quiroz felt that that Zihuatanejo was ripe for a wine tasting room of its own.
His idea was to educate the general public, both locals and tourists alike, on the many wines they carry from around the world. When I walked in, Quiroz, a member of the national sommeliers’ organization Onsom, was teaching a wine class to hospitality and tourism students from the Technological University of the Costa Grande in the nearby town of Petatlán.
I immediately noticed the similarities of Rivello Bar & Wine to the wine shops and tasting rooms I had just visited in Spain and Portugal this past fall, an observation Quiroz confirmed that had inspired him during a recent visit to Italy and France. On Thursdays, customers can book their own private wine tasting party for the reasonable price of 200 pesos for a minimum of four people and a maximum of 10. And for Quiroz, it was a perfect complement to the festival itself.
Along with a few hundred people, I bought my festival ticket (early bird price of 400 pesos, 600 pesos at the door). I arrived to find numerous tables dotting the beach at the Sotovento Beach Club, set against the beautiful bay of Zihuatanejo as its backdrop.
Expo Vino 2019 featured wines from Portugal, Spain and Italy as well as from Chile, the United States and Mexico. Attendees were treated with tastings of everything from “green wine” from Portugal to Malbec from Argentina, and a wide array of sparkling wines, merlots and pino grigios to name a few.
To make things feel even more exclusive, there were special tastings with four featured sommeliers — Marianna Jiménez, Santiago Soto, Leo Corredor and organizer Quiroz. I attended the tasting with Jiménez who spoke about two wines by Bodegas Arraez. Even though the lecture was in Spanish, it was easy enough to follow – possibly the delicious wine served had something to do with that!
Several local restaurants served tasty food options such as shrimp chow mein, sliders and sushi, perfect for wine pairing and easy enough to carry while moving from table to table, sipping, talking and, of course, drinking wine.
The finish to the night included music by the ever-popular group Vertical Classic Rock. As we danced the evening away, I thought two things — what could possibly be better than the moon, the stars, wine and music? And that I am already looking forward to Expo Vino 2020.
The writer is a Canadian who has lived and worked in Mexico for many years.